The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Chapter 8
About three years after moving to Baltimore, Douglass's master, Captain Anthony, passes away. Earlier, his youngest son, Richard dies. In order to divide the estate between the two remaining children, Andrew and Lucretia, young Douglass goes back to Talbot county as property to be evaluated. At the valuation, slaves young and old are ranked along with the horses, pigs, and cattle. The slaves wait anxiously to see where they are headed. Their fates are in the hands of the white men who make the decisions.
"A single word from the white men was enough-against all our wishes, prayers, and entreaties-to sunder forever the dearest friends, dearest kindred, and strongest ties known to human beings." Chapter 8, pg. 90
Douglass fears that he might fall into the possession of Master Andrew, a man known to be heartless and cruel. More than the other slaves, Douglass is troubled because he knows what it is like to be treated kindly. A few days before the dividing of the property, Master Andrew beats Douglass's brother and warns Douglass that he will receive the same when he comes under his possession. Fortunately, he is taken by Mrs. Lucretia and sent to Baltimore again to live with Mr. Hugh Auld. This, Douglass attributes to another kind Providence. Shortly after his return to Baltimore, both Mrs. Lucretia and Master Andrew die, leaving all the slaves in the possession of strangers. Of all the cruel practices of slavery, Douglass considers the fate of his grandmother most unacceptable. After years of faithful service to her master and his children, after having cared for him from infancy to death, and after populating his plantation with her children and grandchildren, she is sent out to a remote little hut to die all alone. She watches as her children and grandchildren are divided like animals. Douglass quotes the famous poet Whittier: "Gone, gone, sold and gone..." (pg. 92). Douglass imagines her death, alone and without the presence of her loved ones. He asks, "Will not a righteous God visit for these things?" Chapter 8, pg. 93
Two years after the death of Mrs. Lucretia, Master Thomas Auld has a falling out with his brother Hugh. As retribution, he takes Douglass back to live with him at St. Michael's. This separation is not too disheartening for Douglass because Mr. Hugh Auld and his wife, Sophia, have become increasingly disagreeable. He feels more sorrow for having to leave the white boys of Baltimore, from whom he receives many lessons. Before his departure, Douglass regrets not having attempted an escape, knowing that it is much harder to do it in the country than a city. As he sets sail, Douglass is revived with the determination to run away.